Monday, March 31, 2008

1991 Classic II - Ivan Rodriguez

Card number T82 in the 1991 Classic set is today's Ivan on Monday card.

Here we have another card with no stats; just a note stating "No Major League Record." Not sure what to think of this card. I don't care for the border but it is an early Pudge. Kind of an odd aspect - there is a spot on the back of the card for an autograph. I guess if I was going to get the card signed it would be on the front.

These cards were initially issued as part of a trivia game and this one has some interesting questions on the back. A couple of them made me scratch my head. See what you know without looking up the answers.

1. (T-F) Babe Ruth hit the most grand-slam HRs in history.
2. Which Giant first baseman hit the most grand-slam HRs in the N.L.?
3. What was Mickey Mantle's uniform number when he was first called up to the Yankees?
4. Who was the Major League owner who was fined for managing his team for one game?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

1986 ProCards - Tommy Shimp

Don't have a lot of information about today's card or the player pictured thereon. Tommy Joe Shimp has no number on this card. I got it years ago as part of a team set and none of the cards are numbered.

The card is made of a pretty thin stock and so has kind of a minor league feel to it. Having the name Tommy Joe Shimp doesn't help. If he had made it to the majors he would have probably shortened it to T.J. Shimp.

I like the design though and you have to love the Eighty Niners logo on the lower left. You also have to wonder if Tommy was trying to replicate the mascot or if it was modeled on him what with the mustache he is sporting.

On the back of the card we find all I know about Shimp. He played in 1985 for Oklahoma City and appeared in 24 games. His win-lose record stood even at 5-5 although he carried a 2.67 ERA in 105 innings of work. With no complete games and one save you have to think he was long relief. Tommy was 6-2 and weighed in at 185. He was born in August, 1957 and lived in Del City, Oklahoma at the time this card was made. That about sums up what all we know about Tommy. I could turn up no minor or major league records so it may be safe to assume that he was nearing the end of his career and never got the call.

Friday, March 28, 2008

2005 Zenith GU - Michael Young

#ZB-90 in the set is Michael Young with a piece of his bat. Seeing as Young is slated to start the season as number two in the batting order we can hope he has his bat going again this year

I like this card. It is a little too shiny but otherwise nice. Simple design and any GU of a Ranger is good by me. I also like the vest style of uniforms that Michael is sporting on this card as he prepares to toss a base-runner out at first.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

2004 MLB Showdown - Gerald Laird

Number 32 in the Pennant Run release is today's card of the day, Gerald Laird.

As of yesterday Laird was named as the starting catcher for Texas for this season. Adam Melhuse is his backup and Jarrod Saltalamacchia got sent to triple A. I for one am glad that is settled because now Laird is out of the spotlight and must do something to get back there. It just hit me wrong to hear Laird complain that he was expected to compete for the starting job instead of it just being given to him. Who does he think he is, Johnny Bench?

As for the card, I like this one. It is always nice to see catchers in their "tools of ignorance" and in action. I also just like the look of the last couple of years of Showdown's cards. The lack of corners to get dinged is a nice touch as well.

In my only previous post on a MLB Showdown card I asked if anyone else has tried the game. Nobody responded but I'll still give you an update on my team. Laird started off as my starting catcher when I put together my team. He stayed there until I got an extra Pudge card (I don't play with the ones in my team or player collections). Rodriguez has a lower on base number but a better arm and more speed. Right now Gerald is having to compete for the starting spot and isn't looking like he'll win it on my team.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

2006 Allen & Ginter - Kevin Mench

Well, Mench didn't make the cut. As of yesterday the Rangers told him that he would be starting the season at Triple A. He made a good run at the final roster but got beat out by Jason Botts.

Decided to post A&G card number 324 today to wish Shrek well. Mench is one of those players you like even if there is no room for him on the roster. At least having him in Triple A is a comforting thought because he can always be called up should an injury create an opening.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

1981 Topps - Jim Kern

Today's card reminds us that Johnny Damon was not a trend-setter with his mountain man look a few years ago. From the looks of Kern on card number 197 of the 1981 Topps set the look has been around for awhile.

Kern was a reliever for Texas for three seasons from 1979 to 1981. 1979 was probably the best year of his career as he posted a stunning 1.57 ERA in 143 innings pitched over 71 games. This got him named joint fireman of the year along with Mike Marshall.

Kern was perhaps more well-known for his wacky antics off the mound. He and fellow reliever Sparky Lyle were called "Craziness, Inc." for two seasons in Texas in recognition of their lunacy. The back of this card does nothing to dispel the reputation by pointing out that Jim often wore a black, wide-brimmed Amish hat.

In August of 1980 he was watching a foul ball. Apparently his catcher was not watching him and threw to him. He got hit in the mouth and fell backwards off the mound. A concussion resulted. A freak accident that somehow fit with Jim Kern's personality.

Monday, March 24, 2008

1991 Bowman - Ivan Rodriguez

Ivan on Monday this week features #272 in the 1991 Bowman set.

Here we see Pudge just after being called up to the big leagues on his wedding day. He evidently has not started playing in the 88 games he would appear in in 1991. The back of the card has few stats but does inform us of his rapid rise through the minors. According to Bowman Ivan made his professional debut at Gastonia in 1989 and played at Charlotte at 1990. By the end of the 1991 season he would be in the bigs and there would be no looking back.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

1989 Bowman - Nolan Ryan

#225 in the 1989 Bowman set is perhaps the most well-known pitcher in Rangers' history. I figured that this card was appropriate for Nolan's debut on this blog because the card is bigger than a normal one and Ryan was bigger than life when he was playing.

Nolan signed with Texas prior to the 1989 season. When he signed there were two schools of thought concerning the move. One was that the Rangers had just pulled off a real coup. The other was that the move was nothing more than a publicity stunt. To tell the truth both were correct to one degree or another.

Nolan never helped Texas get to the post-season. He did help them win games and draw crowds. Pitching his 300th win, 6th and 7th no hitters, and 5,000 strikeout in Rangers blue spurred attendance to incredible numbers. He was the toast of baseball and pulled the Rangers along with him. Fans packed the stadiums to see him pitch and new fans were drawn to the Rangers. It would appear that though Nolan never pitched in October for Texas he gave them the grist to get there only a few years after he retired.

Friday, March 21, 2008

1985 Topps - O'Brien IP auto

Card of the day today is number 196 in the 1985 Topps set. This card is not very impressive looking but I enjoy it for a couple of reasons.

First, I liked Pete. Not sure why but I did. Probably because he was playing first for the Rangers when I first started following the team. That and he always signed promptly when I sent him cards through the mail and asked for his autograph.

Second reason I like this card, the autograph. It is not a thing of beauty but it once was. I got O'Brien to sign this card for me at a game in Arlington. It must have been either the 1987 or 1988 season (I would have been 10 or 11). I had taken cards of several players to the game and went down by the dugout during batting practice. O'Brien was signing and gladly jotted his name on my card. I was in seventh heaven. As I turned away though I brushed the surface of the card in my excitement. The ink hadn't dried yet and smudged. It didn't matter to me then and doesn't really now. I never intended to trade the card. I got the autograph because Pete was playing for my favorite team in the Major Leagues. A big league player had taken time to sign my card! He was bigger than life and took time to sign for a kid. I couldn't have been happier had I gotten handed a million dollars.

New links

A new link for everyone to check out.

The Hamiltonian - A player collector card blog dealing with the Rangers newest young talent. Great write-ups plus a founding-father sounding name.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

1997 Pacific - Rusty Greer

Today's card of the day is kind of a rush job. We have family coming in and Mrs. Spiff is reminding me that I promised to help with the house-cleaning.

I chose #201 in the set because I like Rusty Greer. I figured that way there would be something about this card I like as well as something I don't. I like the mostly border-less look. What I don't like is all the foil along the side (top) of the card. Too much in my opinion (in which I feel I am sure to be joined by Joey at Squeezeplay Cards). It's hard to read Rusty's name and one can only imagine being able to read the year just to the left of his name.

This card also brings up another topic. Rusty is wearing the red uniform that the Rangers sported in the late nineties up through 2000 or so. During that time they went to the post season three times, the only three in club history. Lately I have read some talk about the fans wanting the team to return to red uniforms because they won in them. Well, at least made the post season. Others feel that the red uniforms somehow look better. I beg to differ. I prefer the blue and hope they stick with it. After all, they originally went to blue to get away from the red that they wore in Washington as the Senators. As the saying goes, "Washington: first in war, first in peace, last in the American League."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

2008 Topps - David Murphy

Spring Training moves on and Opening Day is now less than two weeks away. Managers, coaches, and GM's are pouring over player reports in an effort to decide who stays with the parent club and who drops back to the minors.

David Murphy seems bent on making that decision a tough one for Texas. Here he is pictured on card number 254. He played just 43 games for the Rangers in 2007 but hit a blistering .340 in 103 at-bats. He has jumped right out of the gate this spring with a .417 average including four home runs and 15 RBI.

Overshadowed only by Josh Hamilton, David is making a real run at being on the roster on Opening Day. If he can keep hitting like he has since coming to Texas his bat can make a serious argument in his favor.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Star minors - Ivan 2 for 1.

Decided to throw out two of Pudge's cards today. Partially because I missed last Monday but more because they are almost twins.

First up is the 1990 Florida State League All-Stars by Star. This is number 41 in the 50 card set. Looking at this card we only see one line of stats on the back. Good ones to be sure but not a total indicator of what was to come. Perhaps a better indicator might be the look of the player pictured on the front. The kid is still visible but he seems to have picked up a little confidence. For the first time we see the grin. The grin that says, I love this game.

Second up is a 1990 Star number 26. Practically the same card but with a different color border. Well, the back is the same yellow as the border as opposed to the white of the previous card. Why Star chose a yellow border for a Rangers affiliate is beyond me.

Obviously this picture was taken during the same photo shoot as the first one. It appears that Ivan wasn't quite ready for it either. He seems to still be blinking away the flash from the first shot and re-gripping the bat. Kind of a unique pose since Ivan made his name by taking base runners by surprise.

Base runners aren't the only ones he has surprised either. Two different teams have decided he was too washed up to resign only to have him go on and help another team to the post-season. With him leading Spring Training in home runs it looks like more surprises might be in store.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

2003 Donruss Team Heroes - Ramon Nivar

Today's card of the day is number 543 in the 2003 Team Heroes set put out by Donruss. This card is something of a mystery to me.

Ramon Nivar himself is not really a mystery. His stats are pretty up front. In three seasons in the bigs from 2003 - 2005 he played in 42 games. All but the seven he played in 2005 were with Texas. His career batting average is .223 and his fielding percentage is .970. Both help explain why he couldn't quite make it stick in the majors.

Here then is the mystery. According to the back of the card Ramon didn't even make his major league debut until July 30, 2003. While his minor league stats are better than his ones with the parent club the question still begs to be asked; why was he considered a "team hero?" When I see the name of the set I expect to see players who have already impacted Rangers' baseball. The name seems to shout that the set includes established star players and bygone greats. Ramon might be a nice guy but he doesn't belong in either category.

New Link

Orioles Card "O" the Day - Kevin is a huge Orioles fan. He posts new cards almost every day and includes interesting tidbits on the team and players. Great site that is a good read.

Friday, March 14, 2008

1994 Action Packed - Benji Gil

Well, the Rangers made another cut and sent several players back to the minor leagues. Thinking about that made me remember Benji Gil. Here he is on card #48 of the 1994 Action Packed set playing for the Oklahoma City 89ers.

I like this card. Action Packed also did a set of all-time baseball greats and I liked that set as well. You can't tell from the picture but Gil rises slightly out of the card. Kind of a modified 3D effect. Also, I like the shot of him stretching for a smash up the middle.

The back of the card contains partial stats from 1993 when he played with both Texas and Tulsa. It also has a "scouting report" with some interesting information. We learn that Benji was the Opening-day shortstop for the Rangers in 1993 but that the jump from class A ball to the majors was "too much" and he was sent back down. At this point in his career though Gil had little to be discouraged about, he had been named the best defensive shortstop and best infield arm in the Texas League.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

2001 Finest Autograph - Kevin Mench

Decided to throw up this card because Mench is still with the Rangers down in Arizona but hasn't gotten a roster spot for sure yet. They are teaching him to play first base though and that is likely an indicator that he will be with the team on opening day.

I like this card. Not so much because I like Mench (not that I dislike him), I just like the look. A friend of mine sent this me as a gift. It really made my day when it came in the mail. Anytime I can get a nice Rangers card it makes my day. Let's just hope that if he makes the team "Shrek" will make everyone's day as well.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

2008 Pocket Schedule

Maybe I should change this to the collectible of the day. Today we see Ian Kinsler on offense and Michael Young on defense on the front of the 2008 pocket schedule. My mother-in-law picked this up and saved it for me. Glad she did too since I have a wee bit of trouble getting my hands on them being as far away as I am.

I like pocket schedules. They are just the right size to fit in a nine pocket page but with a quick flip you can see the whole year's worth of games laid out for reference. Got to like the selection of players as well. The middle infield guys who are locked in and look like they will be in Texas for several years.

The best part of the schedule has to be that it proclaims that the season is about to start. Gonna see some baseball!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

2008 Topps - Hank Blalock

Well, made it home safe and sound last night. On the way home (about a 500 mile trip) we stopped at Wal-Mart. I snagged a blaster box of 2008 Topps and opened it today after work.

Not much as far as pulls. Hank here on card number 53 was the only Ranger in the box. Since I needed him for my team set that was a plus. Pulling an Ivan Rodriguez also helped to rescue things a bit.

I am still a bit unsure about this offering from Topps. I am leaning towards being unimpressed but can't put my finger on why. Might just be the circus-looking team names or possibly the white borders. I am going to have to mull it over some more before I render a final verdict on the set.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I will be away from my computer the next few days due to a death in the family. Hope to be back posting on Tuesday.

2006 Topps Co-Signers - Jason Botts

Today's card is number 105 in the 2006 Topps Co-Signers set.

Spring Training is moving closer to the final cut and Opening Day. Jason is one of several players trying to nail down a spot on the Rangers roster. He has a problem though. Texas has a light bench due to their deep bullpen. Botts can hit (somewhat at least) but he doesn't do well in the field. As such he is listed as a DH on the 40 man roster. The Rangers really have little room for such a player, they need someone who can play positions for them. Jason has been working on playing first base but it may be too little too late. He may be looking at one more year in the minors.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

2005 UD All-Star Classics - Hank Blalock

#17 in the set is Hank Blalock. I decided to post this card after reading about Hank getting whiplash in a car accident on Monday and being out of the lineup yesterday. He, his wife, and his little boy got rear-ended at a stop sign. He said he was sore but his wife was worse; they had been stopped long enough that she had put her feet up on the dash before they got hit.

Couple of things about this card that catch my eye. First, the way he's wearing the socks. I just like the old style of wearing them as opposed to the way most players wear them now. Second, it appears as though Blalock is preparing to lay down a bunt. Somewhat of a forgotten art in the American League these days and so it is interesting to see him setting up. Also kind of odd considering that he had 38 doubles and 32 home runs in 2004. Since he only had 2 stolen bases that year it seems safe to conclude that he doesn't have the speed to make this anything other than a sacrifice bunt.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

1989 Topps - Kenny Rogers

Chose a rookie card today because I am supposed to start training a new hire at work today. Number 104T in the 1989 Topps Traded set is The Gambler making his first ante.

Kenny was actually signed by the Rangers as a free agent in 1982. He pitched in the minors until 1989 when he got the call. He stayed with Texas until the end of the 1995 season when he was granted free agency and signed with the Evil Empire (New York Yankees). In 2000 Kenny returned to Texas and put in three more seasons with the team. He was with the Twins in 2003 and then back to Texas for 2004 and 2005.

Rogers' career ERA is over 4.00 but is under the league average for the same time. He is also considered one of the better fielding pitchers. Kenny is not too shabby but he knows it and that can cause some problems. Based on his last departure from Texas I have a hard time seeing him back in a Rangers uniform. A shame really because it seems that Texas can always use decent pitching.

Monday, March 3, 2008

1990 Charlotte Rangers Star - Ivan Rodriguez

It's Monday and so here is Ivan. Number 22 in the team set on this card.

For the first time we see Pudge with the tool that truly makes him stand above the crowd; his glove. Still looking quite young Ivan now has some professional experience as related by the back of the card.

Even though it is off-center I still like this card. The pose is nice and I like Star's overall design in 1989-1990. Also, on the back next to the Charlotte Rangers logo is an ad for a card shop in Port Charlotte, Florida. Now that's something you won't see on a major league card.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

1991 Studio - Jeff Kunkel

Card of the day today is number 126 in the 1992 Studio set. I remember when this set came out. I thought it was a great set at the time and still do. The photography and interesting information on the backs of the cards are what really makes the set work.

It appears that the photographer caught Jeff just before a really embarrassing situation. The back of the card informs us that, in addition to chewing gum, Jeff also collects baseball cards. How cool is that?

Kunkel bounced back and forth from the minors to the big show from 1984 through 1988. His first full season with Texas was in 1989. That was also his next to last. Following the 1990 season he was granted free agency. After appearing in 20 games with the Cubs in 1992 his Major League career was over. With a career batting average of only .221 and a fielding percentage of .943 it is understandable that he had trouble sticking on a MLB roster. The cool thing about Jeff though is the position he played. This card says infield. That is less than the whole truth. Jeff played just about every position except for catcher. He even pitched a few innings for Texas. A more accurate description might be "UTL" for utility player. If a guy can do it he can be worth a decent penny as a utility player.

New Links

Added three more links today. None are Rangers related but are good sites anyway. After all, if the other teams had no fans who would Texas play?

1. Cincinnati Reds Cards - This guys describes himself as a "A guy w/ more time than cents who enjoys his Reds cards." Pretty much sums it up, Reds mania occurring daily there.

2. White Sox Cards - A blogger with a "passion" for the White Sox. Nice blog. Easy to read. Perhaps the best part might be the "Sox or no Sox" posts.

3. Indians Baseball Cards. Always. - An ongoing treatise on The Tribe. Nice site.